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Inspired by shark research, Irschick creates "Beastcam" for 3D models

Duncan J. Irschick, Biology, and colleagues have developed a multi-armed platform that integrates several cameras plus a computer system, which they call the "Beastcam" because it can rapidly and easily create 3D models of living animals and other objects. Irschick says, "Once you make a 3D model of an object, you can modify it, conduct experiments with it, animate it or even send it to a 3D printer for testing different designs." Irschick says a key advantage of the Beastcam technology lies in its ability to scale up to a range of sizes, which opens up new opportunities for creating 3D models from a range of subjects.

Dong Wang's lab adds fundamental new molecular-level knowledge about how plants interact with beneficial microbes in soil

Working with alfalfa-clover Medicago truncatula, Dong Wang, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and his lab have found how a gene in the host plant encodes a protein that recognizes the cell membrane surrounding the symbiotic bacteria, then directs other proteins to harvest the nutrients, as published in Nature Plants. As Wang explains, plants often recruit microbes to help them satisfy their nutritional needs, offering the products of photosynthesis as a reward. This method is akin to scavenging, Wang says, because the amount of nitrogen available in soil is quite limited. Read more

BCT students compete in national building competition

15 students majoring in Building and Construction Technology will compete against more than 30 other colleges and universities across the nation at the National Home Builders Show in Las Vegas next week.

Loring's research featured on Xploration Awesome Planet New England

Work by Pamela H. Loring '06, PhD student in Environmental Conservation, was featured on the syndicated television nature series, "Xploration Awesome Planet New England," hosted by Phillipe Cousteau. Loring and colleagues at UMass Amherst, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Rhode Island, use miniature radio tracking devices to follow movements of endangered piping plovers and roseate terns in Long Island Sound. These studies related to offshore wind energy development are sponsored by the Bureau of Ocean Management. Xploration Awesome Planet New England

iCons internship partnership with Waters Corporation featured

For the past three years, students from the Integrated Concentration in Science program (iCons) have been working with the Waters Corporation as interns as part of an effort to help the company’s research and development efforts. Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Irvine co-edits Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

A new and updated second edition of Encyclopedia of Astrobiology was recently published by the German scientific press Springer, with William Irvine, professor emeritus of Astronomy, as one of its co-chief editors. Read more

Alumna DeMoranville, director of the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station, is profiled for WGBH

Carolyn J. DeMoranville '76, director of the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station in Wareham, is profiled for WGBH. WGBH

Rawlins says new data shows that December 2015 was the warmest December on record

Michael A. Rawlins, Geosciences, and manager of the Climate System Research Center, says new data shows that December 2015 was the warmest December on record. He says an El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean, global warming and the weather pattern over the Arctic produced the high temperatures. WWLP-TV 22

Markowitz is co-author of Washington Post column about the best way to encourage more people to care about the impact of climate change

Ezra Markowitz, Environmental Conservation, is co-author of a column in the Washington Post where he argues that the way to make more people care about the impact of climate change is to get them to think about their legacy. Washington Post

BCT’s Weil Discusses Ice Dams on Boston.com

Ben Weil, Environmental Science, and professor in the Building and Construction Technology program, was interviewed for a Boston.com feature on how to prevent ice dams. Boston.com

Rawlins interviewed on WAMC about recent unusually warm winter weather

Michael A. Rawlins, Geosciences, and manager of the Climate System Research Center, is interviewed about the unusually warm weather so far this winter. WAMC

Thayumanavan receives Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund grant

Sankaran "Thai" Thayumanavan, Chemistry, has received a $40,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund to help translate nanoparticles from an academic invention to a clinical reality. The grant is one of eight given to faculty on the five UMass campuses. Read more

Auerbach writes a Huffington Post column calling for changes in the way we teach science and math to produce better informed and engaged citizens

Scott M. Auerbach, Chemistry, writes a column in the Huffington Post where he says one of the keys to dealing with global warming and greenhouse gases on a global scale will be how we teach our next generation of citizens. He says we must reinvent the energy industry and that requires integrating scientific ideas and putting more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and showing students how scientific fields can work together. Huffington Post

Irschick interviewed about how his research team invented Geckskin™

Duncan J. Irschick, Biology and co-inventor of Geckskin™, the adhesive material based on the mechanical properties of gecko feet, is interviewed about how his team discovered the secret that lets the animals stick to surfaces and how they copied it. He says it was his knowledge of the geckos combined with polymer scientist Alfred Crosby’s mathematical analysis that helped them develop Geckskin™. Biotechin.asia

Whitbourne interviewed on NEPR about using video games like Bejeweled Blitz as a brain training tool for older people

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychological and Brain Sciences, discusses her research on how the video game Bejeweled Blitz can serve as a brain training tool. Whitbourne says her study was focused mainly on older people. NEPR

Spencer's sleep research featured on TV program and magazine articles

A news story and television segment feature the research of Rebecca Spencer, psychological and brain sciences, on how sleep affects decision-making. Going Deep with David Rees, Forbes, Quartz.

Jakob Appointed Associate Dean in the Graduate School

The Graduate School has named Elizabeth Jakob, Psychological and Brain Sciences, associate dean for student success for the Graduate School. An animal behaviorist who studies spiders, Jakob has published widely, including co-authoring two textbooks, and received the CNS Outstanding Teacher Award. As campus co-leader of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, she has helped graduate students in the sciences prepare for faculty careers by enhancing their teaching and mentoring skills. She also supervises the new CNS teaching fellows program for first-year seminar Instructors. As associate dean, Jakob will further develop programming that trains graduate students for the professoriate, facilitate applications for institutional training grants and act as the Graduate School's liaison to the campus postdoctoral community.

Parkash Named International Fellow of Indian Society for Plant Physiology

Om Parkash, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, was recently named a 2015 International Fellow of the Indian Society for Plant Physiology, one of the oldest science societies in India, in recognition of his research contributions in plant biology. Parkash is an expert in the plant biotechnology for improving crop productivity under extreme environmental conditions, known as phytoremediation, using plants for cleanup of the polluted soil and water, and metabolic engineering of oilseed crops for increasing oil yields. Parkash has also been elected to a two-year term as vice president of the International Phytotechnology Society beginning in 2016, in recognition of his international research reputation.

Sunwheel and Sky-Watching Events Mark the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21

The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset associated with the winter solstice among the standing stones of the UMass Amherst Sunwheel on Monday, Dec. 21, at 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. At the hour-long gatherings, UMass Amherst astronomers discuss the astronomical cause of the solstice. They explain the seasonal positions of Earth, the sun and moon, why the earliest sunset occurs about two weeks earlier and the latest sunrise about two weeks later, building the Sunwheel and the design of other calendar sites. Read more

Wildlife Biologist Zeller Wins National Conservation Award

Katherine Zeller, a doctoral candidate in Environmental Conservation, recently won a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation of Belfast, Maine, for her research on developing effective corridors for wildlife between protected areas and wildlife populations. Read more

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Names UMass Amherst a 'Best Value' Public College for 2016

UMass Amherst is among the "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" compiled by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. The 2016 ranking cites four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. It is the seventh straight year that UMass Amherst has made the list. Read more

Three CNS students selected as 2015 Rising Researchers

Three CNS students have been selected as 2015 UMass Amherst Rising Researchers for their achievements in research, scholarship, or creative activity: Aaron Dunbrack '17, a quadruple major in Astronomy, Math, Physics, and Philosophy, Biology major Jennifer Olins '17, and Food Science major lvira Sukamtoh '17.

Dasgupta invited to NSF group on increasing STEM Diversity

Professor Nilanjana "Buju" Dasgupta, Psychological and Brain Sciences and director of the CNS faculty equity and inclusion initiative, was invited by the NSF to be part of an ongoing small group of thought leaders from across the nation to advise the NSF on strategies to scale up diversity in the nation's STEM education system and workforce. She took part in a White House summit on "Next Generation High Schools," and gave an invited research talk for K-12 educators, social science researchers, education policymakers, White House staff, private funding agencies and venture capitalists at an NSF-supported forum on "Next Generation STEM Learning for All." Dasgupta also started a three-year term on the NSF advisory committee for its Social, Behavioral and Economic sciences (SBE) directorate.

Danylchuk's Film Premieres at New England Aquarium's IMAX Theatre Dec. 11

A new documentary from Fish Navy Films, What We Fish For, a celebration of recreational saltwater fishing and update on the state of the world's coral reef ecosystems, featuring professor Professor Andy Danylchuk, Environmental Conservation, will celebrate its world premier at the New England Aquarium's Simon IMAX Theatre on Friday, Dec. 11 from 7–9 p.m. as part of the Boston Globe's GlobeDocs series. News Release

Environmental conservationists Randhir and King studying Honduran practices

Watershed scientist Timothy Randhir, Environmental Conservation, and research wildlife biologist David King of the U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Conservation, are conducting research on conservation practices viewed by Honduran conservationists as the last best hope for conserving this area's dwindling forests. News Release